8 questions to determine if your brand needs a realignment - by Woody Bendle
Have you ever driven a car that was completely out of alignment?
As you’re heading down the road, the steering wheel will oscillate, and the vehicle might have a bit of a shimmy. Now, prior to the 70s (when power steering wasn’t a standard feature) if your vehicle was out of alignment, you really knew you had an issue and you’d get your car into the shop pretty quickly.
Today however, when your vehicle is out of alignment, it might feel more like a nuisance; but if you ignore it, in time you’re looking at four new tires and possibly replacing your suspension. And if you ignore it for too long, you run the risk of your vehicle becoming a driving hazard to yourself and others on the road. Not good!
Or how about if you’ve ever thrown your back out. That’s the worst! Right?
It’s hard to stand up straight (if you can stand at all), it’s hard to sit comfortably, it’s uncomfortable to lay down, you can't think straight, you’re totally not yourself – and everyone around you knows it.
Well, brands need alignment too! If they are out of alignment, and if this is ignored for too long, it can significantly erode their equity, disenfranchise its customers and severely limit revenue growth.
So how do you know if your brand is in alignment or not?
To tackle this, let me walk you through a great diagnostic exercise I’ve used a number of times over the years with executive leadership teams.
Usually this exercise will occur about a month prior to a scheduled quarterly or annual strategic planning session. And for this to be most effective, it should be an unannounced impromptu exercise – typically occurring at a standing leadership meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, the CEO calls an audible and distributes a sheet of paper to each member of the leadership team – including herself – and instructs the team to answer each of the questions (without collaborating) over the next 15 minutes. And once they’ve completed, turn the page over and slide it to the center of the table.
As soon as everyone has completed their answers, someone comes into the conference room, places the sheets of paper into an envelope, and leaves. At this point, the CEO discloses that the results will be shared at the forthcoming strategy meeting and proceeds with their normal meeting agenda.
Eight Strategic Brand Alignment Questions
What is our vision?
What is our mission?
What is our brand promise?
Who are we as a firm?
Who is our target customer?
What is our number one priority?
What is our biggest internal challenge (only one)?
What is our biggest external threat (only one)?
The purpose of doing this exercise with the organization’s leadership team is that if the leaders aren’t aligned, it is impossible for the rest of the organization to be aligned. And if your organization isn't aligned, your customers (and prospective customers) will definitely know it too!
Regularly, I've found that there is decent alignment with questions 1, 2, and 8. But the answers to questions 3-7 tend to be where the greatest variance lies across the responses. And, when this is the case, there is a clear need for realignment. If there is also significant variance with questions 1, 2 and 8 as well, the brand is likely in need of resuscitation.
In my next article, I will discuss the steps you need to take if it turns out that your brand does need to be realigned.
So what you you think?
Is this an exercise you can see using with your organization?
What do you think your results would be?
Are there additional questions you would add to this diagnostic exercise?
Let me know your thoughts!